Chanel couture shows always start out with a “regular model” and close out with a bride. And while creative director Virginie Viard upheld the latter tradition at the house’s spring 2022 couture show on Tuesday morning, outfitting the Swiss model Vivienne Roehner in a sleeveless white gown, Viard kicked things off with a surprise. Midway into a short film featuring Charlotte Casiraghi, currently eleventh in line to the throne of Monaco, in full equestrian mode, the 35-year-old royal of Monaco and granddaughter of Grace Kelly emerged atop her steed in real life. Later, having dismounted, she removed her helmet, let her hair down, and joined hands with Viard as she took her final bow.
The stunt was something of a surprise from Viard, who has shied from Karl Lagerfeld’s famously over-the-top approach to runway shows since succeeding the late legend in 2019. Even Lagerfeld refrained from adding live animals into the mix when he transformed the Grand Palais into a hay-filled barn for spring 2010. Viard went with a less elaborate setting, tapping the French artist Xavier Veilhan to take charge of the design. “In addition to creating the show décor with its references to the avant-gardes of the 1920s and 1930s, Xavier wanted to work with Charlotte Casiraghi,” Chanel’s creative director said in the show notes. “His artistic universe is full of horses and Charlotte is a skilled rider.”
While Viard also cast a horse in the spring 2021 Chanel couture show, the designer took a more restrained approach. The bride who closed out the show had help from a professional who held onto the reins. Casiraghi, an accomplished equestrian, had no need for such supervision; she even broke into a speedy trot upon taking her final turn.